About the Sermons

I met Professor Biagini’s students who have been exploring my grandfather’s sermons. What lies behind all this is the sudden [?] interest in the story of the Southern Irish Protestants after Partition. They were, in effect, the Southern Irish Unionists – but of course their Britishness was gone. So they had to work out who they were in this new situation. My grandfather, Ernest Bateman, was ordained in 1911 and he became one of the key influences in shaping their acceptance of the new Irish state. His community had a ‘keep your head down’ ethos so there is very little written material from within this community – his archive of sermons is therefore a major contemporary resource. I went to Dublin with my mother to read them about ten years ago. I learned much about who I am – and why I am as I am from reading them!

It turned out to be one of those rather extraordinary gatherings. Some of those present were part of the same Irish diaspora as Alison and I represent – indeed we knew some of them from our exciting past in Trinity College, Dublin. Others were mainly postgrad students who simply knew everything. One, to my sister’s astonishment, quoted from memory an article written by my mother. Another was able to describe the various houses in Booterstown Avenue [where my grandfather’s Rectory was] in which Eamon DeValera stayed while on the run. For those of us who get by knowing a little about a lot, it is suddenly intimidating to be in the presence of people who do detail.

Anyway, I’ll add a photo or two when I get a moment. But for now you
you may be interested in what I said to them


  1. Having a clear-out of videos (!) recently, I found recordings of two BBC programmes in – I guess – the 80s; maybe early 90s. One is presented by Malachi O’Dohertyand had quite a lot of postive views from Southern Protestants about living there, and several Protestants deploring their as they saw it sectarian upbringing in the North. The other included more doubtful experiences. Dean Griffin appears in both! Happy to lend/donate them to the project if they would be of interest. May even wrestle with the claim by my video/DVD player that I can magic the former into the latter.

    1. Yes that would be good – lend or donate and either video or DVD. I/we belong in the generation which hopes to get to grips with programming the video before too long – unless Eve at 14 months happens to be available. Prof Biagini is keen to gather material. The ‘keep your head down’ and ‘whatever you say say nothing’ culture means that there is a dearth of material

  2. There are fascinating stories in all of this – thanks for sharing! It will be interesting to see how reshaping identities in Northern Ireland and the crisis in Roman Catholicism influence the position of Anglicanism in Ireland!

  3. As a recent incomer, living not far from Booterstown and ministering in a very unusual corner of the CofI (St. John’s, Sandymount) I was fascinated by your paper, and the memories.

    1. Yes I have gradually become caught up in it. I spent most of my life in the separatism and sectarianism of Northern Ireland and making assumptions about ‘how much better integrated we are in the south’ So this somewhat forgotten history is really important – not least for helping Southern Protestants to remember/rediscover that their story is not quite as smooth as some of them seem to think!

Comments are closed.